Abdul Rashid Chadinoo, Managing Director, Aarafh Foods and Spices, Anantnag Kashmir, speaks exclusively to Ziraat Times
ZT: Can you please share with us the history of your business venture/s. J&K’s readers will be very interested to know about where you started, how you grew and how you came to where you are today.
A. R. Chadinoo: I started my career from my family business and ventured into this profession through observation, passion and will to do innovation. Having said that, I am engaged with my family business (now a more than 40 years old organization), started by my father, late Gulam Mohammad Chadinoo, in the year 1977. Reconceptualised and reconstituted in 2015 to align with our ‘Born-to-do Essentials’, to invest fuel, passion and drive into our business to grow in and reach new levels of success.
We are a Kashmir based food industry, having offices and facilities also in other states of India. AARAFH FOODS AND SPICES is a Research and Development business entity as well. We are mainly into manufacturing and marketing of spices and spice condiments, pickles, jams, fruit preserves, spreads and ready to eat foods.
We highly value our Kashmiri food culture and pay close attention to quality. Kashmir is very famous for its beauty and serenity it is our ambition to preserve its food culture and let people enjoy its purity and authenticity. We firmly believe that our spice business is a move for incarnate beauty, which Kasheer already possess.
ZT: That is very interesting. What is your company’s business philosophy?
A. R. Chadinoo: Our approach is to research before the selection of a business and its contours, which we think is essential in our market approach and product selections. Our in-house laboratory carries testing and analysis for product quality and profile characteristics. This whole process is continuous and evaluating for that matter we strive to share, to learn to celebrate and collaborate to offer international quality product and services.
Kashmiri products have specific characteristics, like in case of saffron its composition and characteristics on bitterness, the content of crocin, Pico crocin. All this encourages us to market it on a different pitch than Iranian saffron. As we have been selling the products on its knowledge base, the composition characteristics and the environment and climate it was produced, packed and finally sold. We take every care on pre-product verifications and packing material selections. We can always assure the quality by way of spot sampling and report submission before finally culmination of business.
ZT: Despite all these efforts, J&K still imports a lot of stuff from outside the state. How do you think we can bridge the supply-demand gap?
A. R. Chadinoo: Modern economy is characterized by inclusion bereft of all inequalities and hierarchies. It is based on the principle of justice and is tailor-made to produce. Modern values of ‘modern economy’ are more about creating a conducive environment for mass engagement in innovation, creativity and the mass flourishing.
Jammu & Kashmir does import a lot of foodstuff from outside the state as the demand for the foods we import is huge in comparison to what we produce and preserve. We must think in terms of engaging best brains from academia to introduce speed breeding and fast germination methods to increase the production capacity of products we produce and better our post-harvest techniques to stop wastage of produce.
Pre-harvest and sensible research into the horticulture sector revelations may be of our utter importance as we are to cater to the needs of demands people. But at the same time, it is very important to understand economics and other impacts of growing rice in Kashmir and not importing it from other states.
To my understanding, it shall be technically more economical to continue importing rice from other states and alternatively introduce some fortune yielding crops to the soil best suited for. Green vegetables have a huge demand in the mainland and what is the need of the hour is to go for natural and organic by way of doing research on adopting more organic practices.
The practices involved shall get us more demand and a good price as the mainland is more of a vegetarian eating people. But definitely, it will involve a good research and transportation network to cater to the needs of consumers outside the state.
The food industry needs to be proactive in bridging the gap at home which is between the academia and the industry, as a result, we can find solutions to the problems we are facing largely. Furthermore, organic food has a humungous potential and our State for that matter can be the food reservoir for South Asian Region(SAR).
ZT: What are the challenges you face in expansion and addressing the new market needs and trends?
A. R. Chadinoo: With the lack of ‘Niche Skill’ and political uncertainty, business conditions change continually. So are the challenges in market research. It ought to be continuous as well. Otherwise, you run the risk of making business decisions based on out-of-date information, which can lead to business failure. The more you succeed, the more competitors notice – and react to – what you are doing. A market-leading offer one day may be no better than average a few months later. Apparently, loyal customers can be quick to find alternative suppliers who provide a better deal.
The plan that made sense for you a year ago isn’t necessarily right for you now. Market conditions continually change, so you need to revisit and update your business plan regularly. As your business grows, your strategy needs to evolve to suit your changed circumstances.
So we are always in need to invest in innovation to build a stream of new, profitable products to market and the good stock control and effective supplier management tend to become increasingly important as businesses grow. Planning ahead helps us to anticipate your financing needs and arrange suitable funding.
ZT: Jammu-Srinagar is known to adversely impact all kinds of businesses, how is this road impacting your business?
A. R. Chadinoo: Marketing delays mar the business enthusiasm for which Jammu-Srinagar road is responsible. It does what it is doing to every business and household of Kashmir. As we are a non-serious community who don’t think the indigenous way in contrast we are behaving like settlers. We are not maintaining traditions and other aspects of culture that is associated with this region.
Now for last so many years, we have been witnessing this kind of road behavior and structural changes to it we feel highly satisfied at times while our shipment reaches to the destination and every precaution is primarily taken to avoid any problems in case it takes longer and halt on the road en route to the destination.
ZT: What are the challenges of raw material that you face?
A. R. Chadinoo: Absence of Jammu to Srinagar rail line from. In the case of spices, most of the raw material comes from outside and only the problem of road closures and improper connectivity we deal and manage with stocking the stuff at times road is open but for the raw material from within the state, we are satisfied with the quality and services.
ZT: What is your message for potential entrepreneurs of Kashmir who may wish to start a business in this area?
A. R. Chadinoo: Stick to the self-commitment and develop the passion to give the best, essentially be focused. Kashmir may be posing challenges to run or even thinking to start a business but at the same time it is highly potential because of what is right now and we can make our dreams carry forward although running a successful business requires a lot of hard work and at times you may feel like you won’t see the fruit of your labor but “tough times never last, but tough people do.”
ZT: How do you see the Ziraat Times initiative? What do you think this newspaper should be doing to transform into J&K’s Economic Times or Financial Express?
A. R. Chadinoo: Nice, but still Ziraat Times has a lot of scope for improvement. It needs to balance the urban-rural demands, importantly it needs to create its own space. Yes, the newspaper is research-oriented observations and details provide loads of help to the locals as an insight.